Saturday, May 30, 2009

Practicing the Presence of the Lord

Probably one of our favorite verses in the Bible is Ps. 27:4, which talks about the presence of God, particularly the experience of it, seeking it, dwelling in it and gazing upon the beauty of the Lord. The Psalmist proclaims: "One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple." (Psa 27:4)

On one hand, as believers, we know God is always with us. He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In fact, our Lord Jesus has assured us, "I will be with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:20).

On the other hand, experiencing His presence or having an awareness of it is another thing. There have been times in our own lives where God has “graced” us with a strong awareness of His presence, even when we were not necessarily seeking it. At other times, it is something we have to seek, and we believe that the Lord wants us to seek His presence at all times. This is commanded throughout Scripture in various ways. Ps. 105:4 “Seek His face always,” and in the New Testament, it’s essentially referred to as walking by or keeping in step with the Spirit.

In fact, walking in the presence of God is an essential part of that love relationship with God (loving Him with all your heart, soul, and strength) that leads to obedience. Of course, Jesus walked in an awareness of the presence of the Father while on earth.

Walking in the presence of God is not by any means something we have mastered, nor that we always seek to do. But we did do some research a while back on a person in history who continuously and successfully sought to practice and develop an awareness of the presence of God.

Brother Lawrence was a French monk, who lived during the seventeenth century. Most of us can relate to this man, because his job in the monastery was in the kitchen cooking. In the midst of seemingly menial jobs, like peeling potatoes and baking breads, he invited the presence of God.

Lawrence carried out such Biblical commands as:
  • abiding in the vine (Jn. 15)
  • working at all things as unto the Lord, not for men (Col. 3:23)
  • giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thes. 5:8)
  • praying on all occasions (Eph. 6:18)
  • fixing one’s eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2)
  • taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5)
  • and countless others
As we cultivate the presence of God in our daily lives, which grows out of our daily time with the Lord, our lives will not stay the same. It will change what we do and how we do it. We will find great pleasure in it. And when temptation comes along, we probably won’t give in because we’ll be in a place of submission to God and we won’t want to grieve Him and forfeit the pleasure of being with Him.

The Scriptures have a lot to say about the presence of the Lord and its importance in our daily lives. Here are a few passages:

Some Go Out from the Presence of the Lord
Adam and Eve after they fell into sin: They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Gen 3:8)

Cain after he murdered his brother: Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (Gen 4:16)

Satan when he went to harm Job: Then the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him." So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:12)

Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (Job 2:7)

Jonah when he disobeyed the Lord: But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jon 1:3)

Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, "How could you do this?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. (Jon 1:10)

We Should Function in the Presence of the Lord
Isaac blessed Jacob in the presence of the Lord: 'Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.' (Gen 27:7)

The Israelites crossed the Jordan in the Lord’s presence to possess the promised land: Moses said to them, "If the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben, everyone who is armed for battle, will cross with you over the Jordan in the presence of the LORD, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession; but if they will not cross over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan." The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben answered, saying, "As the LORD has said to your servants, so we will do. "We ourselves will cross over armed in the presence of the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us across the Jordan." (Num 32:29-32)

The Israelites possessed the land by the light of God’s presence: For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them. (Psa 44:3)

The Israelites ate in the presence of the Lord: "You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. (Deu 14:23)

The Israelites ate in the presence of the Lord: "You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. (Deu 14:26)

The Priests Offered Incense in the Presence of the Lord: and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the LORD tomorrow; and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!" (Num 16:7)

Moses and the Israelites stood in the presence of the Lord: but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today (Deu 29:15)

We Should Seek the Presence of the Lord Above All Else
Moses refused to go anywhere without the presence of the Lord: Then he said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. (Exo 33:15)

David sought the presence of the Lord: Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, "It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death." (2Sa 21:1)

We should pour out our hearts and lift up our hands in the Lord’s presence
"Arise, cry aloud in the night At the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water Before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your little ones Who are faint because of hunger At the head of every street." (Lam 2:19)

The Lord sets us in His presence
He hides those who fear Him in the secret place of His presence: How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (Psa 31:19-20)

He sets us in His presence: As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever. (Psa 41:12)

We should dwell in God’s presence
Surely the righteous will give thanks to Your name; The upright will dwell in Your presence. (Psa 140:13)

We Should Repent in His Presence and Times of Refreshing Come from His Presence
You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. (Psa 90:8)

"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; (Act 3:19)

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (Jas 4:10)

There is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psa 16:11)

For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence. (Psa 21:6)

You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. (Isa 9:3)

'YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.' (Act 2:28)

The Presence of the Lord is a Dangerous Place for the Wicked
And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. (Lev 10:2)

Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the LORD and died. (Lev 16:1)

The presence of the LORD has scattered them, He will not continue to regard them; They did not honor the priests, They did not favor the elders. (Lam 4:16)

As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil-- To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! (Isa 64:2)

Mountains quake and melt like wax in the presence of the Lord
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. (Psa 97:5)

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence-- (Isa 64:1)

When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence. (Isa 64:3)

The Wicked Will be Shut Out of the Lord’s Presence
These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2Th 1:9)

The Lord can cast us away from his presence
Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Psa 51:11)

You, even You, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? (Psa 76:7)

There is no placed we can go to flee from God’s presence
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (Psa 139:7)

Jesus tore the veil to the Holies Place from top to bottom, giving us access to His presence
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. (Mat 27:50-51)

He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)

Putting it All Together
Some go out from the presence of the Lord in order to sin or try to hide their sin, but not the righteous. We should always function in the presence of the Lord. We should seek the presence of the Lord above all else. We should pour out our hearts and lift up our hands in the Lord’s presence. The Lord sets us in His presence, so we should dwell there continually. Walking in the presence of God is an essential part of that love relationship with God (loving Him with all your heart, soul, and strength) that leads to obedience. We should repent in His presence and times of refreshing will come. There is fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord. And for every one who comes with a contrite heart, seeking forgiveness, there is mercy and grace.

Mountains quake and melt like wax in the presence of the Lord. The wicked that do not repent will be shut out of the Lord’s presence. The Lord can cast us away from his presence, which is why we should be so grateful for His mercy and not take it for granted.
There is no placed we can go to flee from God’s presence. If you feel you have gone too far away from Him, it's not too late to return to Him, as long as you have breath in your lungs. He loves you!

The Lord has torn the veil of the temple from top to bottom. That means He has made a way, giving us access to His presence in the Holiest Place! He said on the cross, “It is done!” So there’s nothing more needed.

We should ask the Lord to let His presence fall on us. We should seek His face. We should long to be found in His embrace.

As we cultivate the presence of God in our daily lives, which grows out of our daily time with the Lord, it will change what we do and how we do it. We will find great pleasure in it. And when temptation comes along, we probably won’t give in because we’ll be in a place of submission to God and we won’t want to grieve Him and forfeit the pleasure of being with Him.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. Also see my daughter's poem, called "The Glory of God." You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.



Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He is based in Eastern Europe, where he is helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, and planting churches that multiply. www.dmiworld.org


Photo used by permission from John Tussey

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